RELEASED: October 11, 2013 - July 8, 2014 (PC)
AVAILABLE ON: MAC, PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One
DEVELOPER(S): Telltale Games
PUBLISHER(S): Telltale Games
Founded by three former LucasArts designers in the summer of 2004, Telltale Games have slowly grown into one of today's most revered companies, best known for their unique, episodic, cinematic and point 'n' click-influenced takes on many vintage classics and modern favourites of pop culture - such as Jurassic Park and Back to the Future - as well as independent installments in classic LucasArts franchises, such as Sam & Max and Monkey Island. A few episodes into their final breakthrough in 2012's megahit The Walking Dead, Telltale Games announced they were working on an episodic adventure based on Fables, a cult comic book series created by Bill Willingham in 2002 and published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. Although the comic book series was widely unknown outside the U.S. at the time, the first episode of The Wolf Among Us was a great global success, no doubt thanks to the huge popularity of the first season of The Walking Dead. Personally, I was a bit prejudiced of taking on an identical game as The Walking Dead without even knowing what the plot was about, but my ex-girlfriend convinced me that I'll likely find it even better than Telltale's centerpiece. I'm not willing to go quite that far in my statement, but I'll tell you this: after the final episode, there was a smile on my face, and I couldn't think of any other words to say than these four... "they did it again".
What a bad ass you have
Adam Harrington : Bigby Wolf / The Woodsman
Erin Yvette : Snow White
Roger Jackson : Ichabod Crane
Gavin Hammon : Beast / Dee / Magic Mirror
Dave Fennoy : Bluebeard
Brian Sommer : Colin
Chuck Kourouklis : Toad / Bufkin
Melissa Hutchison : Beauty / Toad Junior
Kid Beyond : Grendel
Cia Court : Faith
|There's some history there. Let 'em at it.|
I love the contrast when you take any age-old story, one you've known your whole life, and turn it upside down. I'm 30 years old and I still laugh my ass off at raunchily rewritten Donald Duck comic strips. I love hidden meanings that are present in many children's shows and books. I loved the first Hoodwinked! movie, which started off as a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but how it ultimately turned the whole thing upside down, into a hilarious mystery and conspiracy story. Yet, that movie was aimed for kids - Fables is strictly for adults, and The Wolf Among Us drives that point further towards home. It's dark, it's gritty, it's brutal, with its share of adult-oriented hilarity. Colin, one of the three pigs, bunks at Bigby's place spending his days smoking and drinking, and Bigby doesn't get much of a say in it since he owes the guy for destroying his house ages back. Snow White is Bigby's hot landlord and (potential) love interest, but a total prude whose grumpiness towards Bigby's (potential) advances comes from her failed marriage to Prince Charming. Ichabod Crane from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is in turn Snow White's boss, Fabletown's asshole mayor, with Bufkin, one of the winged apes from The Wizard of Oz for a fumbling, drunken assistant. The Woodsman, Bigby's nemesis from his Little Red Riding Hood days, is a short-tempered and violent pervert, whose "heroics" in the Riding Hood story have been long misinterpreted, but Bigby lets him have his fake glory 'cause it's obvious it's all the guy has. Perhaps my favourite turn-around comes along in Episode 2, in which it is revealed that the Little Mermaid has drifted into a career as a stripper - and soon turns out one of the key players in the series.
|The beauty, the wolf and the prick.|
Think The Walking Dead with a fine share of anthropomorphic comic book characters and mythical monsters, and you've got exactly what The Wolf Among Us looks like. I like Telltale's current, recurring interactive comic book style very much - although I might want to see them try something a little different for their Game of Thrones adaptation - but man, is it glitchy. If you've played any of Telltale's previous games, The Walking Dead included although my mind returns to as far as Tales of Monkey Island, you'll know that a/v is out of sync all the time with these games (to the point of looping or interrupted lines), the loading times are bitchy, and quicktime events halt for a brief while after each button press. At least on the Xbox 360, the game's technical flaws are so massive that the system is slow to register an Achievement, and as it ultimately turns out, it might be that the Achievements aren't registered at all! You see them on the game-specific Achievement list, but not on the My Games page. Luckily the story's mostly so enchanting that a few, yet very notable technical flaws cannot go as far as to destroy the game.
The music written by Telltale's court composer Jared Emerson-Johnson is just amazing, and I must say the intro sequence accompanied by the theme song is one of the greatest intro sequences ever made for a game. I got goosebumps from it in every single episode. The voiceover work is once again done by a group who are more or less considered Telltale's in-house talent, including many actors and actresses who were simultaneously involved with the second season of The Walking Dead. It's of the typical Telltale fare, perhaps a little inconsistent and occasionally too melodramatic, but good work by all basic means.
|I'd like to make a complaint, my lap dance stunk|
like a fish.
The action sequences are somewhat evolved from the first season of The Walking Dead, however they were implemented in the second season as expected. A certain, awesome action sequence in the start of Episode 5 brings in the visible time limit from the conversations, which determines how much of that scene you'll see before the transition to the next scene happens, but most of the time, it's success/failure QTE. What's a bit dorky is that even if the game prompts you to press RT, LT works just as fine and vice versa, so pretty much the only challenge is to respond in time, close to no matter what you respond WITH. The action sequences also involve two kinds of decision-making; while the murder investigation's still very much on during the first two episodes, you are given a few brief moments in the heat of battle to decide which character from two possible choices you think is the killer, and chase 'em down to bring 'em in for questioning... or just beat the shit out of 'em, no questions asked. You make the final call. Just be prepared to answer for any of your conduct later on. In other kinds of situations where two or more assailants are ganging up on you, you need to decide quickly which one you'll attack to gain the upper hand in the fight as quickly as possible.
|Son, now you've gone and pissed me off.|
The Wolf Among Us is another piece of fabulous writing by Telltale Games, but it lacks a few things in total, such as puzzles and a little bit of general consistency; the story stumbles a bit along the way, however just to reach another climax a half an hour later. It also suffers a big deal from Telltale's typical technical flaws. What it definitely succeeds in, is increasing my expectations for any future endeavors after they're done with their "main product", The Walking Dead. Tales from the Borderlands might not turn out my thing - I'm not a huge fan of the Borderlands franchise - but if they manage to weed out those damn technical issues from their upcoming Game of Thrones adaptation, and learn from this experience in general, I think we're in for another masterpiece. Relatively speaking and as a whole, The Wolf Among Us ain't THAT far from one. But it's no Walking Dead.
+ Bigby and a choice cavalcade of NPC's
+ Great music
+ Some semblance of replay value, rare to Telltale's most recent games
+ The huge importance of decision-making
+ The story is great with all its dark, delicious contrasts...
- ...However, it does not come without minor and major slumps
- Various technical issues
- Virtually no puzzles
< 8.5 >